MESHOPPEN, Pa. – Peter Townsend, a rural Meshoppen resident and U.S. Army veteran diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, said today that his life has been changed by the donation of an iBOT® Personal Mobility Device from SoldierStrong, a national nonprofit that helps military veterans take their next steps forward by connecting them with revolutionary medical technologies.
Townsend, who went on to pursue a career in healthcare after serving on active duty from 1982 to 1986, was diagnosed with PPMS more than 13 years ago. Forced to retire as a physician assistant in 2014 due to complications from the autoimmune disease, his mobility was limited to the point where he was unable to access much of the former farm where he lives with his wife, Lisa, and their son, Benjamin. The donation of the iBOT® PMD has now changed that and allows Townsend to venture to places he has not been able to access for a number of years.
“I’m grateful for the generous support that SoldierStrong has provided by procuring an iBOT Personal Mobility Device for me,” Townsend said. “The iBOT is truly a life-changing device and has already made a significant impact on my quality of life, even in the short amount of time that I have had it. This would not have been possible without SoldierStrong’s generous support.”
Townsend noted that the donation has given him the opportunity to raise awareness and educate others about the technology, adding, “The Occupational Therapy Department at the VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre is now aware of the device, as well as Allied Services, the premiere rehabilitation facility for both inpatient and outpatient rehab in northeast Pennsylvania. All of this and more has been made possible because of the generosity of this gift.”
The iBOT® PMD, the brainchild of Dean Kamen, founder and president of DEKA Research and Development Corp., and Johnson & Johnson’s Independent Technology Division, is a one-of-a-kind powered mobility device that climbs stairs, allows users to rise from sitting level to six feet tall, maintains superior balance compared to other products on the market and can travel through sand and standing water.
“The iBOT PMD has a multitude of features that increase the quality of life for its users,” said Chris Meek, co-founder and chairman of SoldierStrong. “We know how important it is for the mental health of injured veterans to be able to converse with others at eye-level, which I believe is one of the device’s greatest attributes. There are many things that the average person takes for granted in daily life, but for people like Peter who are living with MS and others who have experienced a stroke or spinal cord injury, this revolutionary technology allows them to enjoy everyday activities and thrive in ways they simply wouldn’t be able to without it. SoldierStrong is incredibly honored to provide this technology to someone as deserving as Peter in an effort to give back in a small way to a patriot who gave so selflessly and honorably to his country.”
Donations of the iBOT® PMDs is one of SoldierStrong’s latest efforts to provide revolutionary medical technologies to help injured veterans lead full lives. SoldierStrong has donated $5.2 million in state-of-the-art medical devices to individual veterans and VA medical centers. These devices include hyper-advanced prosthetics, virtual reality hardware and software, known as BraveMind, to aid in the treatment of post-traumatic stress (PTS) and the organization’s signature device, the SoldierSuit exoskeleton, used in the rehabilitation of paralyzed individuals who experience mobility setbacks from strokes, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to help them regain the ability to stand and walk again. To date, SoldierStrong has donated 24 SoldierSuits, 14 BraveMind systems and two iBOT® PMDs to individual veterans.
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